Accelerating R&D of regenerative medicine*1 materials to promote business application
FUJIFILM Corporation (President and CEO: Shigetaka Komori) has decided to accept the third-party allocation of new shares worth 4 billion yen from Japan Tissue Engineering Co., Ltd.(President: Yosuke Ozawa; “J-TEC” hereinafter), the provider of tissue-engineered regenerative medical materials in Japan. After the allocation, Fujifilm is expected to have 41% equity in the company.
Regenerative medicine is attracting attention as a promising field of medical therapy that involves the regeneration of malfunctioned tissues or organs, an alternative to the conventional approach of artificial organs or organ transplantation. Regenerative medical research has made notable progress since the development of iPS cells*2, which could lead to the production of human tissues or organs free from immune rejection. However, safety assurance and a number of other challenges are left, and it would need much more time for developing the practical application of iPS cell technology. Development of the regenerative medicine based on the use of autologous cells also faces some challenges, as it needs to achieve the optimum combination of three elements, i.e. (1) “cells” for differentiation and multiplication to form human tissues, (2) “cytokine*3” that induces cell differentiation and multiplication, and (3) “scaffold*4” required for normal growth and multiplication of cells.
Tapping into its knowledge and know-how on materials such as collagen and other polymer materials, and processing technologies such as making microshere or porous structure, accumulated through its extended experiences in photographic business, Fujifilm has undertaken research on biocompatible, biodegradable and physical property required for “scaffold” materials. The outcome was recombinant peptide (RCP), developed with genetic engineering based on biopolymer collagen, and the technology for its mass production. In a bid to use RCP as a “scaffold” material for application in regenerative medicine and accelerate R&D, Fujifilm has decided to enter into capital partnership with J-TEC, a company that excels in culture technology using cell and cytokine.
J-TEC is a Japanese pioneer in regenerative medicine. It is Japan's only bio-venture that deals with tissue-engineered regenerative medical materials, with a superior proprietary technology for cell culturing, and the official approval to manufacture and distribute the autologous cultured epidermis*5 “JACE”. J-TEC's strength lies in multi-faceted technological expertise and know-how in research, development and production, as the only company in Japan that has business experience in regenerative medicine. Fujifilm, on the other hand, brings to the partnership the foundation technology for the scaffold material, the technology for shaping the material into an optimum structure, and bio-imaging technology that is essential in future application of regenerative medicine. The collaboration of these companies in R&D of regenerative medical materials is still faced with a number of challenges before practical application. It will require several years before all challenges can be overcome. Yet, the capital partnership allows the companies to make a giant step forward in field of regenerative medicine.
Defining the medical-related business as its key growth area, the Fujifilm Group is undertaking its business operations to emerge as a comprehensive healthcare company that covers “prevention, diagnosis and treatment”. Fujifilm will continue to leverage its advanced technologies and rich experience to deliver optimum solutions based on proprietary technologies, thereby further enhancing people's quality of life.
J-TEC has the Regenerative Medicine Business subject to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, and R&D Support Business exempt from the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law, with the primary business objectives of developing, manufacturing and distributing regenerative medical materials and related products.